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Defendant in Druzhba pipeline contamination case seeks political asylum in Lithuania

The detainee is to face up to three months behind bars

VILNIUS, July 19. /TASS/. Roman Ruzhechko, ex-chief executive of Samaratransneft-Terminal and the defendant in the Druzhba oil pipeline contamination case, detained in Lithuania on Thursday as present on the international wanted list, asked for a political asylum in the country, court spokesperson Rimante Kraulise told reporters on Friday.

"We confirm that after the arrest was ordered Ruzhechko asked for political asylum in Lithuania," Kraulise commented.

The Vilnius court arrested Ruzhechko for three months earlier on Friday. The detained Russian did not seek legal assistance, the Russian Embassy in Lithuania told TASS.

On May 15, the Samara District Court imposed a pre-trial restraint measure for Roman Ruzhechko, who was wanted in the case of oil pollution in the Druzhba pipeline. He faces charges on three counts of the Russian Criminal Code.

Druzhba pipeline case

The Druzhba pipeline system ensures oil supplies to Belarusian refineries and oil transit to Europe via Belarus in two directions — through Poland and Ukraine

On April 19, the Belarusian petrochemical company Belneftekhim reported a sharp deterioration in the quality of the Russian oil running through the pipeline. The pollutant was revealed at the Samara-Unecha section.

The Investigative Committee of Russia’s Samara region initiated a criminal case under Part 4 of Art. 215.3 of the Criminal Code ("Destruction, damage or putting otherwise into a state unfit for operation of crude-oil pipelines by a group of persons by prior collusion,") Art. 210 of the Criminal Code ("Establishment of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein") and Art. 158 of the Criminal Code ("Theft").

Supplies of clean Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline to Belarus resumed on May 2.